Frost was (is) right

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

…Robert Frost

Trying out for a spot on an NBA basketball team, earning a scholarship for academic excellence, winning a Nobel Prize, being elected to a political office.  These are things for which there is little one can do but to accept the outcome and move on.

Almost everything else where people are chosen for a limited number of spots, or a winner is picked over many competitors; there are other ways to win than the one that is spelled out in the rule book.

There is a well worn path for applying to a college or university, you work your ass off in high school for four years, you study your ass off and you take tests that compare you against everyone else on the planet, Get straight A’s, be in the top 1% of your class, make perfect scores on your SAT and your ACT, get yourself elected as Jr. and Sr. class president and make a pilgrimage to Africa to build a school for orphans.  Do all these things and your chances are pretty good, but still no guarantee. You throw your name in a hat and hope you get picked.  That is the front door, and passing through that way is perfectly acceptable.  But what if you follow the rules and they say “no thanks” you didn’t get picked.  There are other doors, windows, and ways that you can employ that will score you a seat at the table.

In fact, you can even plan to use the side door from the start and take a whole lot of the pressure off yourself.  With a little planning you can score your place and save a few bucks in the process.

The diploma you earn from XYZ University doesn’t have an asterisk on it that says ( yea but she didn’t get in through the front door; she went to Jr. College for a year) Yours looks just like the one that the HS valedictorian gets, and the funny thing is, your story is one hell of a lot better and will likely score you a better gig when you graduate because you showed the world something that it desperately needs: creativity, moxy, and a set a brass balls.  You didn’t take no for an answer and you figured out a way to reach your goals and you did it by creating your own rules.  You made yourself remarkable and remarkable is very very valuable.

Play by the rules and hope, or change the game, and thus the rules, and stack the deck in your favor.  Is the side door a guarantee?  Of course not, but it is the choice with the most control and less random chance,  for my money, I’ll bet on the one where I have my hands on the steering wheel vs. some faceless committee that will never know me and what I have to offer.

The road less traveled is a scarier road, it’s darker, harder to follow, there is no map or GPS, sometimes you have to hack your way through it.  This is why the vast majority of people don’t take it, this is also why it almost always proves more interesting, more enlightening, more of an adventure, and more remarkable when you arrive at the final destination, wherever that may be.

Love, Dad

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